RMS student's legacy lives on in tournament, scholarships
More than two years after her sudden death, Kaleigh Faeh is still making a difference in Rosemount.
Faeh was 13, an eighth grader at Rosemount Middle School, when she started to get sick. Within three days she was in the emergency room, and days after that she was in the ICU with a strep infection that sent her into septic shock. Her organs started to shut down, and she was sedated. She never woke up again.
Kaleigh's death was a shock to many at RMS. Friends made brightly-colored t-shirts with the slogan TEAM Kaleigh. It started as a way to bring together people who missed their friend, their student, but in the years since it has grown into more. There is a TEAM Kaleigh Foundation now, and for the past two years there has been a golf tournament to raise money for scholarships. A neighbor turned TEAM Kaleigh into an acronym for Take a stand, Embrace life, Accept diversity and Make a difference, all ideas Kaleigh believed in.
"It started out as a support group, being Team Kaleigh, and then a neighbor who was a counselor at one of the high schools came up with the acronym," said Joe Faeh, Kaleigh's father.
There were plenty of stories about what a good student Kaleigh was, how she stood up for kids who were being bullied.
"All the teachers had really good things to say about her and loved having her in class," Faeh said.
The first summer after Kaleigh's death some friends of the family put on a golf tournament in her name to raise money for CaringBridge and Children's Hospital to support other families who are going through what Kaleigh's family experienced.
The following year, the family decided they wanted to do something closer to home. They wound up giving six $1,000 scholarships to students graduating from District 196 high schools. The plan was to give five, Faeh said, but the selection committee just couldn't decide.
The year after that, they gave another $6,000 worth of scholarships.
Students who apply for the scholarship have to write an essay focused on one of the four TEAM principles Kaleigh held dear.
The tournament that supports those scholarships is growing. In its first year it attracted 80 golfers. The second drew 88. For this year's event, which will take place Aug. 17 at Emerald Greens Golf Course, organizers hope to draw at least 100.
They want to build up a fund so they can do something extra special for the class of 2015, Faeh said. That is the year Kaleigh would have graduated.
For Kaleigh's family, the tournament and the scholarships are a way to carry on her legacy.
"We're still pretty amazed by the continued support we get from the community and that we're not the only ones who miss her," Faeh said. "We're forever thankful and grateful that we do have the support, because sadly we know of others who don't."
For more information about this year's TEAM Kaleigh tournament, visit teamkaleigh.com.